Smoke gets in your eyes, Italian style

contentFor over a century, Carl Ipsen argues in Fumo, Italy has had a love affair with the cigarette. Perhaps no consumer item better symbolizes the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of recent Italian history. From around 1900 the new and popular cigarette spread down the social hierarchy and eventually, in the 1960s, across the gender divide. For much of the century cigarette consumption was an index of economic well-being and of modernism: only at the century’s end did its meaning change as Italy achieved economic parity with other Western powers and entered the antismoking era. Ipsen draws on film, literature, and the popular press to offer a view of Italy’s ‘cigarette century’ from the 1870s to the ban on public smoking in 2005, tracing the links between smoking and imperialism, world war, Fascism, and the protest movements of the 1970s.

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